Dual Process Theories in Behavioral Economics and Neuroeconomics: a Critical Review

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Despite their popularity, dual process accounts of human reasoning and decision-making have come under intense scrutiny in recent years. Cognitive scientists and philosophers alike have come to question the theoretical foundations of the ‘standard view’ of dual process theory and have challenged the validity and relevance of evidence in support of it. Moreover, attempts to modify and refine dual process theory in light of these challenges have generated additional concerns about its applicability and refutability as a scientific theory. With these concerns in mind, this paper provides a critical review of dual process theory in economics, focusing on its role as a psychological framework for decision modeling in behavioral economics and neuroeconomics. I argue that the influx of criticisms against dual process theory challenge the descriptive accuracy of dualistic decision models in economics. In fact, the case can be made that the popularity of dual process theory in economics has less to do with the empirical success of dualistic decision models, and more to do with the convenience that the dual process narrative provides economists looking to explain-away decision anomalies. This leaves behavioral economists and neuroeconomists with something of a dilemma: either they stick to their purported ambitions to give a realistic description of human decision-making and give up the narrative, or they revise and restate their scientific ambitions.

Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)105–136
Aantal pagina's32
TijdschriftReview of Philosophy and Psychology
Volume11
Nummer van het tijdschrift1
DOI's
StatusPublished - 2020

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